Pentecostal Preacher Sherman Allen Turns Out to Be Reverend Spanky

The Fort Worth preacher is accused of beating, threatening and assaulting women for more than 20 years

After joining the Church of God in Christ and plugging into its huge network of congregations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Allen's ministry began to grow on the strength of his authoritative preaching and people-pleasing manner. Veronica would see it swell from 15 to 1,500 before she left in 1991. The prosperity gospel was coming into vogue in the Pentecostal-charismatic world, and Allen made it his own. Image was everything to him, Veronica says, even if the image was a fraud.

She recalls driving around in Allen's Mercedes in the heat of a Texas summer with the windows rolled all the way up and the air-conditioning broken. Allen, she says, endangered her children's lives so he could hide the fact that he couldn't afford to get his car fixed. Veronica noticed other hypocrisies too. If Allen were ministering at the church of a righteous-living COGIC pastor, Allen would fast and pray and make pious talk. But in private, Veronica says, Allen wasn't even remotely devout. He didn't pray. He didn't fast. He didn't talk about the Word of God. Yet his prodigious mind and oratorical gift kicked in every Sunday morning; he preached like a virtuoso.

Veronica says she asked him once, "How do you sleep at night?"

Shiloh has dropped "Church of God in Christ" from its name on its web site, but the church's sign still bears the old denominational affiliation. Allen's biological father, Sherman Clifton Gee, was a COGIC pastor.
Morrey Taylor
Shiloh has dropped "Church of God in Christ" from its name on its web site, but the church's sign still bears the old denominational affiliation. Allen's biological father, Sherman Clifton Gee, was a COGIC pastor.
Davina Kelly claims Sherman Allen beat her with a paddle and sexually abused her during "counseling" sessions. "There were times it would cross my mind—just don't go," Kelly says. "I would think, 'I'm having a rebellious moment.'"
Morrey Taylor
Davina Kelly claims Sherman Allen beat her with a paddle and sexually abused her during "counseling" sessions. "There were times it would cross my mind—just don't go," Kelly says. "I would think, 'I'm having a rebellious moment.'"

Allen didn't miss a beat. "Like a baby."

Veronica's departure from Shiloh came on the heels of another woman—Edwina Cunningham, who would become Allen's wife in 1991. Cunningham was married when she came to Shiloh, Veronica says, but dumped her husband in the course of receiving counseling from Allen. The preacher wooed her while Veronica was still living in his home.

Veronica left. Outrage was welling up inside of her. He had made a fool out of her, she says. She took her complaints to a high-ranking COGIC official, spilling about the butt-whuppings, the sexual shenanigans. She won't identify the official publicly. His response, according to Veronica? "If you want to keep working in this church, you better keep quiet."

These were sobering words, but the rage still found an outlet.

One Sunday morning in 1991, Veronica was at Shiloh. She'd warned Allen never to creep up behind her, but he did it anyway.

What followed was a blur—Veronica says she hardly remembers a thing—but this much is confirmed: "I went berserk on him."

Next thing she knew, Veronica says, Allen was lying on his back on the church floor with a bloody nose and one of his shirt sleeves ripped off cleanly.

The service abruptly ended.

———

The prophetess was freaked out. Juanita Bynum told the people she'd never experienced anything like this since she'd first been saved: The previous night in her hotel room, she said, 14 sex demons held her down and licked her all over.

You need to get on your knees and repent, she told the crowd at Shiloh. I don't know what you're doing, she said, but if it doesn't stop, some of those standing in the crowd this very day will be dead within a year.

A spiritual shockwave rolled through the packed sanctuary, and soon there were 75 or more men and women on their knees at the altar, crying out to God. "Boy, she tore that place up," says Elder Thompson, who attended the special service in late 2000.

Bynum pledged to stay there all night if necessary while people repented. The prophetess was already one of the biggest names on the Pentecostal scene, and she'd come to Texas to preach for her friend, Sherman Allen.

Prophecy was the new wave in the Pentecostal and charismatic churches, but it was old hat for Allen. Now he positioned himself at the vanguard of the trend through his annual Prophetic Summits, which featured national speakers.

While anguished men and women surged toward Bynum at the front of the church, Allen made a move of his own. He walked out of the sanctuary and shut himself in his private office.

Pentecostal prophets would come and go all the time at Shiloh, taking the pulpit while Allen was traveling or presiding over special services. Did they discern anything unusual about the man who blessed them with fat checks? Former Shiloh members say some did, like Bynum, and they didn't appear again. Though Allen was probably at the height of his influence, hosting his popular prophetic conferences and hanging out with some of the biggest names in the Pentecostal world, everything was not as it seemed. His wife Edwina was unhappy, several sources say. She would die in 2003 of complications from scleroderma, a disease that causes the skin to harden and crack.

Allen, left with two children, was heartbroken, a family friend says. The competition to be the next Mrs. Allen, however, began anew.

Meanwhile, a woman had joined Shiloh who would end up telling the entire church world about Allen's alleged abuse. She was Davina Kelly, daughter of a California COGIC pastor. While others had become discouraged seeking justice through private channels, Kelly would take her fight to court.

———

Kelly was raised COGIC, and her leaders instilled in her the biblical saw many churchgoers cited to the Observer: "Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm." So, the teaching goes, one should never rebuke a man or woman of God who's caught in wrongdoing; leave it to God. While this Scripture is arguably ripped out of context, the interpretation is still widespread.

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1 comments
jimmiespriggs
jimmiespriggs

Well well my Lord what's been done in the dark will surely come to the light and if that's so about he wasing offical registered under COGIC well thank God that the headquarters their don't have to be tied up in his ligation all I want to say is to pray earnestly for

 
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